Why your brain craves durries so bad when you're six beers deep on the piss

22/12/2017

You’re drawn to durries while on the beers, because nicotine has a very direct effect on the memory.

Peas and carrots. Email spam and your Nan opening it. Fuckboys and head-cropped, ab-shot, Tinder profile pics. Moustaches and serial killers. Mashed tato and gravy. Town girls and highlighter. Butt cracks and plumbers. Milli and vanilli. Weed and pizza. Anal and a big ol’ bottle of lube.

Okay, you get it, booze and durries are one of those combos that go so well together, alone they’re almost incomplete.  

You don’t want to be a scab. You didn’t think you’d need it. You're not even a smoker...

Then two or three beersies deep, suddenly, a craving for warm, filthy smoke filling your lungs with its deliciously, disgusting, poisonous nicotine consumes you.

Everyone’s smoking around you. That stinky, smoky smell you usually curl your nose up at, now has you more barred up than a Warrior’s fan watching the second half.

You try to resist the temptations. Then one more beer and two mooched darts later, you’re running down to the dairy to pick up a pack of Blue Rothmans, ready to calm TF down and smoke your night away.

12 hours later, you wake up with one dirty duzzer left, and a bad case of ciggy-butt-brain-mouth plaguing your already God awful hangover. 

You feel all dry and disgusting, and no matter how many times your brush your teeth you can’t rid your mouth of that dirty duzzy, stale smoke taste.

You’re confused because this feeling is all too familiar. You promised yourself last time you had a big night and woke up with this rude af taste, you’d never smoke again...

How are you back here again?

It’s not just the obvious fact that the combination has an effect on your dopamine levels, making the cigarettes more moreish than cocaine.

Well, according to Dr John Dani, a neuroscientist at the University of Pennsylvania and expert on the mechanisms of addiction, it’s not just the obvious fact that the combination has an effect on your dopamine levels - making the cigarettes more moreish than cocaine. You’re drawn to durries while on the beers, because nicotine has a very direct effect on the memory.

To explain this a little further, in 2009, Dr Dani’s team published a study proving how nicotine has a Super Saiyan effect on your memory pathways.

They put laboratory mice in a pen with two compartments. In one compartment the mice received a dose of saline, while the other compartment was pumped with nicotine.

No surprises, the mice were attracted to the nicotine compartment and learned to spend their time in there pretty quickly.

However, what’s really interesting, is that unlike the saline, Dr. Dani found the nicotine strengthened the mice’s neuronal connections, sometimes up to 200 percent. 

Dr. Dani explained to Vice:  “This strengthening of connections underlies new memory formation. We found that nicotine could strengthen neuronal synaptic connections only when the so called reward centres sent a dopamine signal. And that was the critical process in creating the memory associations."

Huh.

So, essentially, once you’ve done it once or twice, and enjoyed your time doing it, your positive memory of smoking cigarettes while drinking is hardwired into your brain - on a much more powerful, nicotine-fuelled, level than your regular happy/enjoyable memories.

This memory then gets bundled into memories that were caused at the same time. I.e. that happiness that comes from hanging out with your mates and getting on the beers is now associated subconsciously with smoking.

This is why you keep going back there, even though you know you’re probably going to regret it in the morning.

Okay, that makes sense. But why do you chain smoke SO MANY of them?

As both substances are known for increasing your dopamine levels on their own, Dr. Dani had hypothesised that the combination of booze/durries would have a kinda turbo effect on your dopamine levels.

In actuality, they found that the two positives make a negative. Kinda like when you get two really hot celebrities and they make an onion baby.

So, people keep chain smoking while drinking, to try and REGAIN that happy feeling.

Suddenly you’ve smoked 20 cigarettes and have a husk to your voice that even Patty and Selma would be impressed by.

Theoretically, this goes something like this:

  1. You start drinking with your mates, you're feeling all tipsy and warm, which triggers those positive memories of smoking while drinking with the bros in the past.
  2. Then you light up a sniggy, which initiates a release of a stress hormone that actually stops the release of dopamine.
  3. After the cigarette, with your dopamine levels flatlining, you then want to drink more to try regain that level of happiness...
  4. And so the cycle repeats... and suddenly you’ve smoked 20 cigarettes and have a husk to your voice that Patty and Selma would be impressed by.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster.

SCIENCE, GUYS.

What's most important to remember in all of this, however, is the fact that even as a casual smoker, that only darts up when drinking, your risk of becoming one of those full time ciggy-butt-brains goes up astronomically every time you light a cigarette, and then giving up is a god damn nightmare... 

So, if you haven't fallen into the trap already -although, let's be honest if you've gotten this far through this article, you probably have- just leave well and good alone and stay away from the addictive beer/duzzy cycle in the first place. 

By Roisin Kelly.